Versailles' Hall of Mirrors glitters even brighter

20th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

VERSAILLES, France, Dec 19 (AFP) - Versailles, the famed former royal palace outside Paris, is to gleam brighter than ever for visitors starting Tuesday when officials reveal the half-completed renovation of its Hall of Mirrors.

VERSAILLES, France, Dec 19 (AFP) - Versailles, the famed former royal palace outside Paris, is to gleam brighter than ever for visitors starting Tuesday when officials reveal the half-completed renovation of its Hall of Mirrors.

"The heart and the emblem of Versailles has recovered its splendour," the director of the monument, Christine Albanel, proudly told AFP.

The renovation of the hall -- known as the Galérie des Glaces in French -- was the first undertaken since it was first built in 1684.

A year and a half of work involving 60 specialists has gone into the project, which is due to be completed in May 2007 at a total cost of EUR 12 million.

From Tuesday, around half the hall will be exhibited to the public's gaze. The rest will continue to be covered by scaffolding hidden behind mirrors designed to maintain the feeling of the long room.

Some seven million people visit the imposing palace and its manicured gardens every year.

The renovation has seen wooden floorboards replaced, paintings, mirrors, marble and bronze cleaned up, and the installation of electrical and emergency fire systems.

"The Galeérie des Glaces is a whole work of art -- it required an entire overhaul," said Frédéric Didier, the head architect of France's historic monuments who is overseeing the project.

He said the work uncovered some long-hidden secrets, including a painting symbolising the battlefield exploits of King Louis XIV on part of the ceiling that had been painted over.

The chief of the restoration team, Cinzia Pasquali, said the result of the effort is striking. The blue paint used to depict the sky proved to be an unexpectedly bright lapis lazuli when freed of centuries of grime, he said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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